Report from the Park View UNC Ward 1 Candidate Forum

On Wednesday, March 5th, the Park View UNC hosted a Ward 1 Candidates Forum with candidates Jim Graham and Brianne Nadeau. I thought it was well run with about 20 or so people in attendance. I liked that opening statements from the candidates were brief and the majority of the time was devoted to questions from residents.

Shortly following the meeting the UNC Secretary distributed the following summary on the local Park View & UNC listservs. Overall, I think the summary captures the essence of the forum. Notes from the forum via the listerv are below:

Introductory Statements

Jim Graham

Graham emphasized the progress made in Park View during his tenure on the council, in particular improvements to the Park View Recreation Center and grounds. Graham recalled attending the annual basketball tournament before the grounds were remodeled, and spoke of the new field and space for the tournament as a mark of progress for the community. Moving forward, he would like to focus on developing lower Georgia Avenue and Sherman Avenue. He also acknowledged the longtime work of ANC Commissioner Kent Boese.

Brianne Nadeau

Nadeau emphasized her work as an ANC Commissioner on U Street, and described her strengths in constituent services, community building, and organizing the U Street Movie series. She spoke of issues in Park View where she would like to see improvements, especially rat abatement, alleys that need paving, and developing a vision for the GA Avenue Corridor. She would also like to hold the housing authority accountable for redevelopment of Park Morton.

Question and Answers

Question: What are the accomplishments you are both most proud of, during your terms in political office (as ANC Commissioner or Councilmember)?

Nadeau:

  • worked systematically to address abandoned property abatement throughout her ANC
  • created working committees to engage community leaders to meet monthly with the ANC and provide feedback
  • worked with Sustainable U program to engage businesses in smarter waste management to reduce trash and litter

Graham

  • led the Whitman Walker Clinic which responded to the needs of individuals and families fighting HIV/AIDS
  • transformed Ward One while maintaining diversity and reaching out to different groups

Question: What is your vision for Ward One’s various commercial corridors (U Street, GA Ave, etc)?

Graham

  • more funding for commercial development
  • repetition of projects that led to the CVS, the Senior Wellness Center, and eliminating drug crime near Murray’s Steaks

Nadeau

  • Maintain Park View’s residential and historic character
  • attract commercial development to the GA corridor
  • restore 1.2 million in funding cut from the Streetscape project
  • increase the number of community events to allow people to better know their neighbors and create a sense of community

Question: What is your vision for Park Morton?

Nadeau

  • organize a project to re-bid for a new developer
  • address major miscommunication between housing authority and deputy mayor’s office
  • ensure that new housing meets needs of existing residents (2-3 bedroom units as opposed to 1 bedroom units that made up the bulk of affordable units in The Ave development)
  • address existing maintenance issues Park Morton. Brianne described personally assisting an existing resident address broken plumbing, rats, and other issues.

Graham

  • the Park Morton has been renovated several times and conditions there are not so bad
  • the development has a mouse problem, not a rat problem
  • the project was delayed not by miscommunication, but by lack of community support for putting tall buildings anywhere but along GA Avenue, where space is limited
  • he is happy that the Ave development provided 27 new units of affordable housing
  • the Streetscape project (previous question) is proceeding successfully.

Question: What do you plan to do to assist with the Bruce Monroe Elementary at Park View Modernization (BMPV) and what is your platform on education more generally?

Graham

  • his opponent has no prior history with education issues
  • the 2012 BMPV partial modernization was very important
  • Otis Place should be closed for part of the day to allow greater use of the Park View park by BMPV children
  • the Council should defer to the Mayor and Chancellor on education policy
  • an elected School Board should be restored to handle education policy issues

Nadeau

  • she has previously worked with Garrison Elementary on its modernization
  • her opponent has done nothing substantive on education reform
  • schools should be providing more wrap-around services, including counselors, healthcare, programming partnerships, food pantries
  • would encourage neighborhood engagement and more community partnerships with schools

Question: What is the role of the Council in Education, given the Mayor and Chancellor’s roles?

Nadeau

  • Councilmembers can work with communities to help foster engagement. Park View is already a good model of this
  • Council can provide more budgetary support. Schools are currently under-funded by 20%, this should be increased.

Graham

  • he would focus on getting funding for projects, such as the Cardozo renovation, rather than attend committee hearings on education issues, which are not necessary to accomplish this goal

Question: What can be done to increase affordable housing?

Graham

  • Supports blended affordable mixed-income housing

Nadeau

  • supports workforce subsidies for firemen, teachers, and other individuals whose work supports the community
  • supports the HPAP program, which helps fund down-payments on homes to make long-term home ownership possible for more people
  • She feels government housing programs are not well-publicized or well managed. She cited her own HPAP application, which was approved but then cancelled, forcing her to re-apply while under contract for a home. She felt Councilmember Graham was not sufficiently helpful with this process. She also stated that his recent sanction by 11 members of the Council for ethics violations indicated that his colleagues were no longer interested in working with him on issues.

Question: What would you do to preserve small and minority-owned businesses on GA Avenue

Nadeau

  • provide funding for small businesses to renovate and upgrade
  • draw more daytime foot traffic to Georgia Avenue

Graham

(Spent majority of time responding to Nadeau’s points regarding the sanction and lack of assistance for her HPAP application. He stated that the sanction involved a conflict of interest between two different public offices he had held, and that no laws were broken. He also read from an email string in which he assisted Nadeau with her housing application)

  • would support the environment and workers, as evidenced by his Sierra Club and labor endorsements

Concluding Remarks

Both candidates thanked the UNC for the forum opportunity and encouraged attendees to take home yard signs. Nadeau invited neighbors to visit her new campaign headquarters on 14th and Florida.

With less than a month to go before the April 1st primary, and with early voting beginning on March 17th, I know that those interested in the direction Ward 1 takes in the next four years have a lot to think about.

I believe the next four years are going to be critical for the future of the Georgia Avenue corridor and those of us who live here. I’ve finally settled on who I think would be the better candidate and will post that endorsement on Monday.

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3 Comments on “Report from the Park View UNC Ward 1 Candidate Forum”

  1. PkView Says:

    “Graham
    the Park Morton has been renovated several times and conditions there are not so bad”

    Wow. Just… wow.
    He certainly lost my vote with that one.

    • julesonprinceton Says:

      Ditto. Glad he was honest about those feelings as we can clearly expect PM not to be a priority in his next term. As a parent considering BMPV, was not too impressed with Graham there either.

  2. bw Says:

    “lack of community support for putting tall buildings anywhere but along GA Avenue, where space is limited”

    Is this the case? Just curious if anyone knows. My feeling is that given the problem of developing the site many neighbors would be willing to revisit this issue.


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